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3 Top Financial Tips Before You Wed

It’s wedding season, and now that New York has legalized gay marriage, even more couples will be saying their vows. But financial experts say that getting married isn’t always good for your finances – and in fact, unmarried couples often make smarter financial decisions than married ones do. For betrothed couples gay and straight, Pay Dirt asked experts for the three biggest money-related tips for a happy and solvent union:


Plan your financial future – together

Unmarried couples, especially same-sex couples in states without legal protections, often seen planning their financial future together as a joint activity, says Michael Wallman, managing director of the Wallman Financial Group in Winter Park, Fla. Not so married couples, who tend to assign the responsibility for financial preparedness to one person. And while it might be nice to offload that chore to the more interested or capable spouse, such a sequestered arrangement can result in bad investments and a vastly reduced nest egg, says Brian D. Emery, financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services in Westbury, NY.

Protect your assets

Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, IRA of my IRA: Married couples often assume they should combine assets as a matter of course. But keeping real estate or certain savings accounts separate may be helpful, whether to maintain some independence or autonomy, to protect one spouse from the other’s past financial difficulties, or to protect you both in the event the marriage doesn’t last, says David M. Taube, CEO of Washington DC-based Kalorama Wealth Strategies. For couples who do decide to merge their assets, they should do so only after full disclosure of credit histories and scores, he suggests: Co-owned assets may be subject to the claims of a spouse’s creditors.

Put it in writing

A marriage certificate can provide certain benefits (as of now, more for straight couples than for same-sex married couples), but it doesn’t take care of everything, says William Parks, a divorce and family lawyer based in San Francisco. It doesn’t account for health care directives, explain to a partner the extent of a couple’s assets or their location, or whether or not they want a do-not-resuscitate clause. For this, Parks says, couples need a good attorney and a safety deposit box – with two keys. Sites like can also help to know what the most important financial and legal documents are to keep in safe hands, especially if one partner dies. No, talking about one’s eventual demise or the possibility of a divorce isn’t very romantic, but then, neither is sharing a bathroom – and most married couples do that, too.

For more, read our how-to guide on paying for a wedding.


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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.